Over the Easter holidays, I thought it was a good time to look back on the past six months of service delivery by the JISC Regional Support Centre London team. Looking through our activity reports, I can’t help but think that the Region continues to enjoy access to an extremely effective service, while swimming the strong currents of changes affecting our sector.
In our delivery plan for 2010-11 we identified a few areas that were key to our learning providers while reflecting national priorities. This was in the context of reduced budgets and the need to adjust to new funding mechanisms, particularly in the work-based learning sector.
For the past three years, our London Learning Portal project has been looking at how work-based learning providers can benefit from collaborating on a single Moodle installation hosted by ULCC. This innovative project capitalises on the benefits of shared services. It has had a few ups and downs but we continue to believe in its potential to help the WBL sector collaborate better in the future. The lessons learned will inform future developments.
Still on our support to WBL, colleagues from London, South East and Eastern came together to network and interact with keen presenters who talked about the potential of effective use of technology in the sector. The post-event report is worth reading.
When JANET UK announced modifications to its services back in November, working together with RSC South East and RSC Eastern, the JISC RSC London was quick to offer concerned providers a round table discussion to air out their views and clarify the implications of the changes. Delegates felt that most of their concerns were appeased by the open debate.
London Learning and Skills Professional Development Managers have been interacting with colleagues to find common solutions to issues they face in their jobs at our LLSPD Forum, strengthened by the presence of representatives from partner agencies, including LSIS and the Centre for Excellence in Teacher Training.
Aware as we were of the need of leaders and managers, we wanted to offer them opportunities to discuss and find solutions to the challenges they faced when procuring new technologies, strategizing about their learning platforms, reviewing the deployment of technology, producing their staff development strategies and helping them plan their next moves.
When we made a move to support senior and middle managers to help them make important decisions in relation to the use of technology, we developed our own e-Progress Review approach. EPR, as it is most commonly known, continues to play an important part in internal consultations and reviews, particularly when managers want to know how people feel about their technology deployment in order to develop a new strategy. The last six months, has seen an increased number of ACL providers taking up on EPR to great effect.
IT Managers from London learning providers met in December to focus on the issue of procuring ICT and identify ways of sharing intelligence about products and providers to help them all save money. This simple step generated an incredible amount of intelligence and confidence in the power of our network to help colleagues in the region make the best decisions. IT Managers have always supported the RSC London Techie Get-Together, one of the oldest forums of this nature. They have kept up their termly meetings this year. On the subject of IT support, Network Managers in all subscribed providers continue to benefit from our TRAP service. It provides weekly network traffic reports, highlighting service usage to help managers best allocate resources and redirect users to less busy times.
Our commitment to the use of technologies in teaching and learning continues. We have had a strong focus on accessibility so far. Xerte, a dynamic, open-source multimedia design tool that allows tutors and organisations to create and share resources, was an easy pick given its flexibility and JISC TechDis endorsement. The two workshops (Xerte Beginner’s Day and Xerte Online Toolkit for Advanced Users) were fully booked and attracted delegates from across the sectors. I would encourage everyone to read the reports. As a former teacher trainer myself, I am heartened by examples like this Xerte materials in action
A real challenge for us was when the department for Business, Innovation and Skills signaled the end of funding to Sixth Form Colleges given their reallocation to the Department for Education. Together with JANET UK and JISC Collections, JISC Advance worked quickly on behalf of the RSCs to convince the DfE that our services are good value for money. I saw the sector come together as one to stress the importance of our services. We were successful in our bid, but there is no room for complacency. DfE made clear its intention to ensure Sixth Form Colleges get the best service for their money and compare it to the services available to the Schools sector.
Our communications strategy has also delivered timely information to the community, helping colleagues make sense of the plethora of information and signposting them to important local and national news, as well as our events. The use of our e-bulletin and mailing lists has been instrumental in this respect. It’s also great to see the number of followers in our @rsclondon twitter increasing.
The JISC RSC London has also been busy raising awareness of the sector to some key JISC Services, programmes and resources, including the Business and Community Engagement, e-Books for FE, and more.
Once Easter is over, we speed up preparations for two major activities: the RSC London e-Factor Showcase and our steering group meeting. Very soon, we will also start planning our next year’s delivery plan and we would like to give you an opportunity to input into this process. Feel free to tell us about your priorities in relation to technology for the coming year.
If you want to discuss any issues raised in this post, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.